#KENMode 🇨🇦 NULL

2 min read

Band: KEN Mode
Title: NULL
Label: Artoffact Records
Release Date: 23 September 2022
Country: Canada
Format Reviewed: Digital Download

Like a rabid Lassie caught in a bear trap, the beast that is KEN Mode drags itself onward, teeth bared, on a relentless mission to devour anything crossing its path. On NULLthe band’s latest album, due for release on the 23rd of September on Artoffact Records — the beast shows no sign of relenting. If anything the rage grows greater, the madness more intense.

The album opener “Love Letter” is a statement of intent, with typically aggressive, lurching rhythms, clanging guitars, and frontman Jesse Matthewson venting his spleen. Add to this the squealing saxophone of newly permanent member Kathryn Kerr and you’ve got the auditory equivalent of a poisonous storm cloud raining molten rock.

“Throw Your Phone In The River” — with its venomous, Today Is The Day-reminiscent humming guitars and swirling drum fills — follows a similar template of high energy attack. So too the herky jerky “But They Respect My Tactics”, sounding like it’s being pulled in all directions by four wild horses, and the excellent “The Desperate Search For An Enemy” — possibly the most amped up track here and an album highlight.

All great songs, but NULL is much more than just a constant, high-tempo attack. The sinister, industrial minimalism of “The Tie” is a great shift of pace and includes a sickly synth pad effect that sounds like some rotting lung pulled out of William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. “Lost Grip”, meanwhile, starts out with a slow, sludge churn of bass, marching band drums and forlorn piano, before escalating and evolving into an absolute beast of a track, fully deserving of its ten minute run time — not to mention Jesse’s ragged cries of “WE DESERVE THIS” piercing your soul.

In case all of this isn’t enough to sell the album, the band just casually throws in the best riff of the whole record on the mid-album “Not My Fault” — another track dripping with menace and barely controlled psychosis. Closer “Unresponsive” delivers more slow, industrial horror, where the band channels mid-80s Swans at their gruelling, crushing best.

NULL is 36 minutes of raging, broiling noise rock/ sludge metal/ industrial nastiness that will stick its fist into your guts and pull your hot entrails out as it stares you down with wild eyes. This one’s surely going to be on album of the year lists come the winter. 9/10 Tom Osman

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9/10 Epic Storm 
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